Tennessee Minister Murder Mystery

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Wednesday night is the annual media dinner in Washington, D.C. People from all over the media descend upon Washington for the dinner. The dinner, incidentally and coincidentally, is at the hotel where President Reagan was shot in 1981. I have opted out of the dinner this year. Our show will be live as usual.

As you might imagine, I receive lots of interesting gifts and letters from viewers. Today was a first for me: an interesting gift from an unusual source. But first, some background. When Debra Lafave's plea agreement was rejected by the judge, I called the judge to see if he would appear on our show and discuss his on the record ruling. I really did not expect that he would, but I thought it worth a try. I reached him and he was very cordial, but declined my invitation. He did offer me — and it arrived today — some of his family's homemade 100 percent sugar cane syrup (with a label with his name on it and also mine. In fact, the label reads, in part: "Made Exclusively for Greta Van Susteren.") I did not get the interview with the judge, but look forward to trying the 100 percent sugar cane syrup.

If you wonder where Geoffrey Fieger has been lately, scroll down to the bottom of today's blog and read the newspaper article. Fieger has been very, very, very busy... and not in his home state of Michigan.

Help me figure this one out: the text below is taken from the National Journal (online) Hotline (on March 27.) The text was forwarded to me by someone who could not figure out what it means and neither can I. Hence I turn to you. What does "FEINGOLD: You've been Greta Van Susteren'd" mean? Is the joke an obscure reference to the title of our show? And yes, sometimes I am dense and just don't get it. This is one of those times:

"FEINGOLD: You've Been Greta Van Susteren'd
The Senate Judiciary Cmte has scheduled a hearing on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) resolution to censure Bush fof [sic] 3/31. A GOP aide indicated 3/24 'that the focus of the hearing ... will be to provide a forum for debate over the merits of the proposed censure measure.' GOPers are eager to get Dems 'on the record on the issue,' believing 'that such a vote would seriously undercut' Dems' ability to convince the voters of their national security poweress. [sic] For their part, Dems have sought to 'distance themselves from the issue' and 'sought to have the measure addressed' in cmte before any vote on cenure. [sic]
Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter (R-PA) is reportedly 'interested in engaging in a back-and-forth with Feingold on the issue.' In the 'initial furor over the censure proposal, Specter asked Feingold to return to the floor for debate immediately after he introduced the measure. When Feingold failed to do so, Specter chided his proposal as 'over the top' and 'unsupported by any rationale'"
(Brotherton, Roll Call, 3/27)

Now for some e-mails. Many of the e-mails below discuss the murder of Minister Matthew Winkler in Tennessee. Let me remind you, there is a big difference between speculation and fact. Many e-mailers and viewers have theories as to what happened in the murder, but speculation is not and is never fact. There is always a problem that if enough people repeat speculation often enough that others begin to think it is fact. There is still much to learn about the murder. So, enjoy the discussion around the water cooler and keep discussing it, but caution yourselves that we need to look for real facts. The facts are what matters.

E-mail No. 1 — The e-mails about cats refer to Wednesday's blog:

Hi Greta,
I had many cats. There is an easy way to give them pills. First cover it with butter, then put it in the mouth with the mouth tilted up and then blow on the cat's nose. Worked like a charm for my cats!

E-mail No. 2

Did you know that there is now antibiotic you can put on your cat's ear — yes, ear! — for bladder infections? It's a salve that you actually put on the hairless part of their ear... you just pull their ear back a bit to get there and slab it on. Ask your vet about it; it's saved my hands and arms from being bloodied by a cat who's tired of being given pills. I admit I was skeptical at first, but it worked!
Jean Johnston
Vicksburg, MS

E-mail No. 3

I found your recall of giving Ozzy medication to be amusing. It reminded me of a time with my cat Spunky, who just passed away. He was a huge orange cat, almost small dog huge. He loved to get on the edge of the tub whenever anyone took a shower and would stick his face in the stream of water coming down to get a few licks. I loved bath water and shower water. He was crazy. Anyway, one day I was shampooing my hair in the shower with Spunky right beside me and dropped some shampoo out of my hand in the shower. Well the next morning while in the shower, the cat stuck his face in the stream of water and, as usual, his forehead got wet too. All of a sudden he starts running and jumping and twisting and turning and climbing, etc. I jump out of the shower wondering what the heck is going on. I was a bit frightened at first because he had saliva going all over the place and then started foaming at the mouth. He was an inside cat so I did not think it could be anything too serious but was about to call the vet when I reached down to pet his head, after I cornered him, and his forehead started to soap up like... shampoo. I had dropped shampoo on his forehead while bathing the morning before and did not realize it. It must have dried until the next morning when he stuck his head in the shower to take a drink and it ran down into his mouth. I can still see him going crazy now. Now I have two wonderful kittens that love to play with my foot while I work. I am a medical transcriptionist and work from home and every time my foot rises off of the pedal, they start attacking my foot. It makes it hard to work but they sure are fun. I hope Ozzy is feeling better soon. Give him a hug for me.
Tammy M.

E-mail No. 4

Hi Greta,
So glad to hear that Ozzy is OK. I wanted to pass on something that helped me give medicine to my obnoxious male cat (Harley), he also scratched and hated my guts. I used to have a soft towel to kind of wrap him in to hold him and he couldn't claw through it. I also used to have a nice treat waiting for after (some tuna). Also, watch the ash in Ozzy's food. Apparently high ash content is linked to male urinary problems. Hope he is better and that you aren't too scarred by this.
Avid viewer,
Julie Ward
Uxbridge (just outside of Toronto)
Ontario, Canada
P.S. I lost Harley to other things in 2003 and I miss him everyday.

E-mail No. 5

With regards to Ozzy's medicine and your safety in giving it to him, a compounding facility can make many pet meds into trans-dermal gels that can be rubbed into the hairless part of your cat's ears. Before my Sashi's passing last month I was giving her six prescriptions this way, and it was a godsend.
Much easier on the pet, and much safer for you,
Melissa Lapierre
South Burlington, VT

E-mail No. 6

Dear Greta,
Many of us are reserving any comments about the Winklers' situation until more facts become known. At any rate, I find myself for the first time feeling supportive of a criminal attorney team. I never thought I would be. I wish her and her legal defense team the best.
Secondly, I am an active member of the Church of Christ. I would like to clarify the marriage/submission thing. While the Bible does state that the man is head of the household, this in no way means that he's to lord over his wife in a tyrannical fashion. Many men say that they may be head of the house, but she's the neck that turns the head. LOL. In fact, the husband is commanded to "love and cherish" his wife. For those that wish to look it up, it's found in Ephesians 5: 22-33. I'm a lucky person in that I enjoy this type of relationship with my husband, and I'm not some little milquetoast June Cleaver sort. Neither are my friends that are full-time housewives and soccer moms. I hold down a day job, while starting a fledgling career of my own and finishing up college coursework. I've been told that I can be assertive and downright ornery to be around sometimes, but that I'm pretty much "a good ole' gal" most of the time to be with. Still, when it comes to our marriage and our home life, I express my opinions to my husband, but I leave the final judgment call up to him and he's never let me down.
T. G. Scott
Milan, TN

E-mail No. 7

I think the preacher must have divulged something to his wife that devastated her. Maybe he told her he was gay or they were broke or he stole from the church. I do not think any of these would be a valid excuse for murder. But I think it would have to be something that hurt her to the core and concerned her about her children's reaction. God bless the little girls because now they don't have either parent.

E-mail No. 8

McCort in E-mail No. 7 is correct. The Church of Christ denomination can be very strict and it seems like West Tenn. has churches that are the most restrictive. Fear is used and taught as doctrine. Many who eventually break from the faith have serious issues and actually have to go through counseling. If Mrs. Winkler was being abused or her daughters were, it would not be unusual for her to fear stepping forward. Her husband would be believed by the church members over her claims. She may have felt she had no other option.
My theory is that she caught him sexually abusing one of the daughters. I've thought about what factors would instigate a wife to kill her husband and that one is high on the list. The fact that the police are keeping it confidential seems to support my theory.
Tracy Bumpus

E-mail No. 9

Hi Greta,
I was raised in a very religious home, my mother died when I was a baby, and my aunt, raised me and my sister. I can see that Ms. Winkler, and her children, were probably abused, her husband probably thought he was God, and you can bet, if she didn't do what he told her, he beat her, and there is a phrase in the bible, that says woman shall obey the husband, and also, 'spare the rod', spoil the child, bible fanatics can be very traumatic and dangerous to live with, if they are out of control with the times and reasoning... and they always are goody, goody to neighbors and friends, to cover up how they treat their family at home. I know, because I lived in a situation myself, that I finally got out of. Thank God. I hope you can interview Mrs. Winkler, so we, the people out here, can hear her story. She doesn't look like a killer to me.

E-mail No. 10

I live about 15 minutes from Selmer, TN and have been following this story closely. All those condemning this woman may want to stop and ask themselves what would they do if they caught their preacher husband molesting the children. Not saying this is the case but until all the facts are known it could be. I know if it were me and I caught a man doing that to my child the only thing I would have done differently was make him face me when I pulled the trigger.
Jim Kindred
Corinth, MS

E-mail No. 11

Has anyone considered that Pastor Winkler may have been murdered (by accident perhaps) by someone that his wife is protecting?

E-mail No. 12

It is my opinion she and/or the girls were abused, he took it one step too far, so he received his just reward. Too many wives accept abuse, and their preaching families don't believe them, or tell them "it isn't that bad." She did what she felt she had to do to get out of the situation.
Kathy Baker

E-mail No. 13

Dear Greta,
As a member of the Church of Christ and someone who is familiar with Mark Winkler's father and grandfather's preaching, I would like to respectfully request that you refer to him as a minister or a preacher. We do not us the title pastor and it is a great disrespect to his memory to call him such. This is a trying time for his family and I know they cringe every time they hear 'Pastor Winkler' as does every other member of the church of Christ. Thank you for your understanding.
Amy Browne
A member of the Lord's body
Ackerly, TX

E-mail No. 14

Try stuffing Ozzie in a boot before you start with the pill routine. I don't mean hurt him. Just put his backside down inside a boot gently. It will keep his strong back claws out of play. Trick I learned as a farm boy on a dairy farm with a cazillion cats.
Mrs. Winkler is an interesting case. I think there is a lot more to be told here. A minister is, after all, just a man. Like any man (or woman) he can be a Jekyll and Hyde. I think we all need to withhold judgment until the full story comes out. This is not to say she should skate if she reacted in an inappropriate manner... just wait till we hear both sides. Remember I'm a retired cop and I wouldn't "jump to judgment."
Lloyd Davidson
Lancaster, OH

E-mail No. 15

Love the show. I also love Ted and Bernie... I was just thinking about something that I haven't heard any news stations really talking about. Do you think that maybe Mary walked in on her husband abusing or sexually molesting one of the girls? Maybe that's why she shot him in the back? Just a thought: Maybe the little girl was beaten or knocked out I just think in my mind that the only reason a wife/mother would kill her husband is 1) To protect her kids, 2) To protect herself. NO ones really knows what happens behinds close doors... It's a very sad story for everyone involved.
Fredericksburg, VA

E-mail No. 16

Getting medicine down a cat is only eclipsed in difficulty by giving same cat a bath. There is a technique I learned ages ago when I worked as a vet technician. It's called "wrapping the cat". He's how you do it: (It's a good idea to have some help with this but it can be done by yourself)
1) Get an old bed sheet or large beach towel that you can sacrifice.
2) CATCH the cat. He probably hides now that you have been shoving stuff down his throat regularly — Valium or not.
3) Wind the sheet around the cat starting at one end of the sheet (roll him up like an egg roll), making sure to get his front legs pointed down toward his back legs and away from his head. Get it good and snug around the neck so those front paws can't move away from his body.
4) Wrap him up completely until all you can see of him is his head (he should be complaining quite loudly by now). He will also be an immobile bundle.
5) Give him his medicine.
6) Unwrap him quickly by sitting him down and pulling the loose end of the sheet. He'll unroll like a carpet and take off.
Have fun! You might want to videotape it — wrapping cats can produce some funny moments. It's not only the claws and teeth that can be used as a weapon. I've seen sinister pooping going on as a defense mechanism, too. That's why the sheet should be "sacrificable." [sic]
Tracy Bumpus

ANSWER: Tracy, I think the biggest problem in this suggestion is "catching the cat." If Ozzy sees me with a sheet, he is going to take off and hide under the bed, in the middle, where I can't reach him from any side. He is smart... and, as for videotaping it, I should. You would get a very, very good laugh as Ozzy outsmarts me.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia jury awarded $17 million to a brain-damaged 9-year-old girl from southwestern Pennsylvania on Monday.

The jury ruled in favor of Marissa Pochron, of Rice's Landing, Greene County, in a lawsuit filed by her parents against Monongalia General Hospital.

The lawsuit alleged that a botched delivery damaged Pochron's brain at birth.

The suit also said that hospital staff waited too long to perform an emergency C-section when a fetal heart monitor showed distress, and it claimed that Pochron's brain was deprived of oxygen as a result.

"For nine hours, Marissa was in fetal distress. And all of the doctors said all that needed to be done is what's done in millions of times in hospitals all over the United States — perform an emergency C-section — which can be done in about five minutes. Instead, that wasn't done for over nine hours," attorney Geoffrey Fieger said.

"It was ringing and ringing and what did they do? They turned off the alarm and walked away," the attorney said.

According to Fieger, Pochron has cortical blindness, in which images that her eyes see do not register in the brain, and she requires 24-hour-a-day care. "She knows who she is and she knows what she is, and she knows that something is wrong with her, but she doesn't understand. It's really sad," he said.

"What we're looking for is to prevent this from ever happening again," said Mark Pochron, Melissa's father.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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